Chapter 6
Positive Messages
• Routine Letters and Goodwill Messages (p. 142-143)
– Letters are primarily external documents
– Sent to:
Government agencies
Other businesses
Customers (most important)
– The most emphatic positions in letters are the openings and
– Good for the following:
Creating a permanent record
Lending confidentiality
Conveying formality and sensitivity
Delivering persuasive, well-considered messages
Direct Requests and Response
Messages (p. 144-146)
• Opening
– Opening and closing are most emphatic positions
– Ask the most important question first or express a
polite command (in the form of a rhetorical
question. Do not use a question mark.)
• Body
– Explain request logically and courteously
– Ask other questions if necessary
– Use graphic highlighting to increase readability
• Closing (see p. 146 for tips)
– Request a specific action with an end date, if
appropriate, and show appreciation
– End courteously
– Avoid clichéd closings
• Thank you for your cooperation, (trite)
• Thanking you in advance, (trite and presumptuous)
• If you have any questions, (suggests your message
wasn’t clear)
Responding to Requests (p. 146148)
• Written in response to requests for information
or action
• May include a Subject Line below the
salutation to identify previous correspondence
and/or refer to the main idea (optional in a
• Opening
– Deliver the most important information first
– Avoid wordy, drawn-out openings
– Announce good news immediately
• Body
Check facts and figures carefully (if appropriate)
Arrange information logically
Use graphic highlighting to increase readability
Explain and clarify information
Provide additional information (if appropriate)
Build goodwill
• Closing
– End pleasantly, and offer help to the reader
– Avoid clichéd closings
Instruction Messages (p. 148-150)
Follow direct organizational strategy
Use plain English
Be clear
Outline steps to be taken to complete a task
• Writing Plan (p. 148):
– Subject Line: Briefly summarizes message
– Opening: State main idea concisely
– Body: Divide instructions into steps in the order in
which they should be completed
• Use bulleted and/or numbered lists to help you organize
• Begin each list item in imperative mood (a command)
– Closing: Request action, summarize message, or
present closing thought (along with deadline)
• Revising Instruction Messages (p. 149)
– Watch tone
• Tell readers what they should do, not what they
• Do not threaten the reader
• Do show how the steps will help the reader
– Explain tactfully reasons for the new instructions
– Make sure you use imperative mood
– Make sure lists are grammatically parallel,
beginning with active-voice verb
Direct Claims and Complaints (p.
• Opening
– Describe clearly the desired action, especially when the
remedy is obvious
– Ask for a change in policy or procedure, or for an
explanation if the remedy is less obvious
• Body
Explain the nature of the claim
Tell why the claim is justified
Provide details regarding the action requested
Avoid becoming angry or assigning blame
Include copies of all pertinent documentation
Cite names of people you spoke to and dates of calls (if
• Closing
– End pleasantly with a goodwill statement
– Include an end date if appropriate
– Act promptly
– Keep a copy of your letter or email
Adjustment Letters (p. 152-154)
• Three goals:
1. To rectify the wrong, if one exists
2. To regain the confidence of the customer
3. To promote future business and goodwill
• Subject Line (optional)
– Identify previous correspondence
– Make a general reference to the main topic
• Opening
– Grant the request or announce adjustment immediately
– Do not begin with an apology if you are complying with the
– Use positive language
– Include sales promotion if appropriate
• Body
– Explain how you are complying with the request
– Try to regain the customer’s confidence
– Use positive language
• Decide Whether to Apologize (p. 156-157)
– If you feel an apology is an appropriate goodwill gesture,
include it.
– Be brief! Apologize once, and let it go.
– DO NOT admit negligence.
• Closing
End positively with a forward-looking thought
Express confidence in future business relations
Include a sales promotion if appropriate
Avoid referring to the unpleasantness
Goodwill Messages (p. 158-161)
• Written in response to:
– Thanks
– Recognition
– Sympathy
• Goodwill messages should be:
• Thank-You Notes (p. 158-159)
– Direct opening
– Special notebook paper or heavy cardstock
– Written in response to:
• Gift
• Favor
• Hospitality
• Responding to Goodwill Messages (p. 160)
– Rude not to respond to recognition
– Written to:
• Answer congratulatory note
• Respond to pat on the back
• Conveying Sympathy (p. 160-161)
– Refer to the death or misfortune sensitively
– Praise the deceased in a personal way
– Offer assistance without going into excessive
– End on a reassuring, forward-looking note
Is Email Appropriate for Goodwill
Messages (p. 161)
• Handwritten messages more impressive
• Email appropriate if:
– You frequently communicate with receiver via
– You precede a phone call or a handwritten offering
– You immediately follow a condolence email with a
handwritten note

Chapter 6 - Wright State University